Three months on the Wild side
It’s week 13 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio which means life as I have become accustomed to is coming to an end. Or is it a new beginning? This week I head back into the world that is conservation management or did I not actually leave?
One thing I do know is that time is hurling me back into the world of straddling - straddling being an employee with being a mum, a director of an artist run initiative and of course being an artist too. I’ll be heading back into the realm of trying to figure out in first light of the day – my waking moment, who am I and ‘which bag do I take today’? Can I just walk up the slope to my studio?
So what rings true and what have I learnt from this focused journey of the last 3 months. Well, my family is no. 1 and relationships are really important to me, one step in front of the other creates a path, Nim doesn’t cope with eating foil, quick loose lines work well for me as does warm deep shadows, one moment actually most moments making art is excruciatingly hard but then the next it’s breezily easy and a joy – you’ve just got to keep turning up and I feel driven to turn up, looking after our land, the land that supports us is at my core, snakes don’t freak me out but anxiety does (did I make the best decision in the context – what if I look at it from that other angle?), in working towards this exhibition for every day in the studio, there was half a day spent on research, administration and business management outside of the studio (revealed by the spreadsheet - it’s just what happened), an ethical and simple life is a good life but once again I managed to neglect the veggie patch (even with so many hours at home), and I feel so privileged by being well buoyed by an awesome, warm and supportive community (cheers you).
So will I keep up with this weekly blog – don’t know? As with everything time will tell. But I have felt it has helped me stay the course and be accountable in the absence of those helpful beings that are managers (found in that other world).
The other thing is, I think if you’re lucky enough to have a passion and you’ve got something to share, it’s worth giving it a good crack.
If you haven’t already and want to check out my work, WILD is at Cowra Regional Art Gallery until 24 April 2016. There’s also some images of some of my work on my website http://www.nicmasonartist.com/gallery.html
It’s week 12 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio. My first solo art exhibition, Wild, is on right now in Cowra Regional Art Gallery until Sunday 24 April 2016. If you are thinking of heading there, please do. With more than 100 people present at the opening, the Director, Brian Langer, Gallery staff and volunteers did an absolutely awesome job. Many thanks also to Tracey Callinan, Executive Officer, Arts Outwest who opened Wild so well. If you made the trek there I hope it was worthwhile. This opening was a terrific experience for me for many reasons, I felt very grateful and very much in the moment. Here’s the gist of my speech …
‘I would like to say some thanks and tell a quick story too
I am here with this exhibition (my first solo show) because of an amazing opportunity I have been afforded through winning the 2015 Central West Regional Art Award. Thank you to the Judge of last year’s award Andrew Frost, thank you to the patron of that award David Henley and Thank you to Brian Langer, Director of Cowra Regional Art Gallery for making this happen. It is a big moment in my life. I realise having, a first time solo exhibitor, a wild card to manage is no mean feat – thank you Brian for your patience, for looking after me and for answering all those many questions. Also thank you for your terrific curating of the Wilkins Collection, A Survey in the rest of the Gallery. Having my first solo show here at the same time as this Survey is meaningful for me – not just because Brian has curated a terrific exhibition focusing on landscape and figurative works that quite work with my work.
It feels like one of life’s coincidences. Many many years ago as a 17 year old stepping out into life’s path, how I made my decision of whether to follow those romanticised thoughts in my head of becoming an artist (and to study fine arts at uni) or equally romantic - save the world through looking after national parks (and go to uni to study science) I made this decision based on whether I got into Art Express or not. Although I did well, I didn’t make the cut.
So instead, I opted for Macquarie University. But that was lucky for me, as it was there that, that other romantised ideal I had of life – a life partner, came to fruition. Whilst still a teenager, I met my very own man of maths. Mark Robertson - thank you for all your support, for sharing your life with me and for coming along on this tangentful ride with me. But really at the time I think I wasn’t quite formed enough to handle putting myself out there – in the art world of all places, and so I have had many years to think about and practice and refine my art at my own pace without external pressure.
So here – my work has arrived.
To put on a show like this there are many who have put in.
Thank you to everyone here at Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Jacque Perry, your warmth and spark is gold and to all the volunteers behind the scenes, I am so grateful. To John and Helen Daly who I spent a whole day with earlier in the week hanging the show. You really are the Dream Team.
To Tracy Sorensen, who has given much much more than just writing the Wild catalogue essay. Thanks for being so full of life and generosity and realness.
To Tracey Callinan, of the terrific body that is Arts Outwest – I feel an incredible privilege having you open this exhibition.
To Kiata Mason, my cousin – for your critical eye, your encouragement and for just being here and helping – thank you and please go now and finish your masters.
Of doing the work – you may notice that there are some people painted in this show. Of the two big ones - to Dave and Sharon my work colleagues who sat for me. Thank you Sharon for sharing your Wiradjuri language with me that day and many days, and then sharing your family with me – the other day and many days. I loved going through Stan Grants Wiradjuri Dictionary with you. To Dave, thank you for just sitting still and letting me study you so closely and also for sharing Jules with me. You were so good having us both check out all those colours and lines and bits that make your face you. I hope I have been able to capture just a little bit of you both, you Dave and you Sharon. I’m so glad that you could both come today and bring your mums along as well – and I’m chuffed that my mum is here too.
To my children and their friends – my little wild ones. I paint you because I love you, I can’t really think of anything more interesting or beautiful to paint.
To my friends, my work colleagues, my extended family, my manager, your support is awesome. To each of my exceptionally supportive artist buddies at the Artist Run Initiative –t.arts Gallery in Bathurst – what a great community you are. To everyone who jumped on the bus and those that made their own way here, I know all our lives are so busy so I am really grateful and acknowledge and say thank you to each and every one of you. And those wonderful people of Cowra who I am just meeting today – I am absolutely thrilled that you have come along too.
So to finish off I just want to let you know why I have titled this exhibition Wild. What does it all mean? Well I’m happy for you to see and think whatever you want. And if along the way, you think about some Wiradjuri language then that’s great. If this exhibition has introduced you to the eastern quoll (Mabi) then that’s all good too.
And of the little red bag you’re welcome to see anything in it too. For me it is symbolic, it is about my life – each day I think “which bag do I take today?” but more than that when painting the little red bag, I was thinking about the status of our rare and threatened animals, the signs that they leave in the bush and can they come back or are they lost from our landscape for good.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked in the wild industry that is conservation management and have worked with not only rare and threatened species, but some awesome wild workers to.
For me this show is also wild because it’s got my kids in it. I feel really fortunate to be part of their lives.
But lastly it is wild because not only is it about my life, my kids, the people I work with, the work I have done, but it is wild because in this art world that I am edging on the periphery of, this show right now (my first solo show, without me having a fine art degree), is a wild card.
Thanks so much for coming, thanks so much for supporting Cowra Regional Art Gallery, this Wild exhibition and me.
I hope you get something out it.’
It’s week 11 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio and there has been much movement at the station. My studio has been emptied and my exhibition has been hung thanks to the dream team at Cowra Regional Art Gallery. Today Saturday 19 March my first solo art exhibition, Wild, opens at 2pm in Cowra Regional Art Gallery.
It’s week 10 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio and I have fallen deep into dark, rich, warm shadows made all the more enticing by light cool highlights. With the portraits that I have been painting, I asked my knowledgeable cousin Kiata about colour temperature and did she have any wisdom to impart. She said ‘have a look at some old masters work and start with Rembrant’. So I have been. Painting and in particular, working with colour is a bit of a break-through for me. One of the questions Tracy Sorensen asked me during the interview for the Wild catalogue essay was ‘had I always painted’. I haven’t, I’ve been painting for seven years and I started with oils some five years ago.
So here’s an abridged story. I don’t remember painting as a kid but I was always drawing and I have always had a love of looking and thinking about concepts, light, form, composition and art in general. My first real memory of painting is at high school when I had a big moment that re-enforced my thought at the time that I couldn’t paint and I didn’t understand colour. I thought best to just stick to drawing, colour was just not my thing. I was just 14 and I was in an art class where the project was to create an abstract painting. The first week went well when we were just given a tub of white paint to start on a Masonite board. But when week 2 arrived and colour hit the pallet, I took some feedback from the teacher as not so positive and so I just said to myself that I couldn’t paint and that I had no idea about colour – and that was it … a door almost closed … until 20 plus years later and post kids I thought, well that’s a stupid way to think, and no one ever gets anywhere thinking like that. I dumped that idea and some others too. I now think, I just want to give it a go and I love a learning curve. I think it is very common for children to sign off from learning. I’m trying to encourage an open mindset and learning for life with my kids and me too! And with this thought I’ve started this week planning some workshops that I will be running out at Cowra Regional Art Gallery in the next school holidays. The question is, how can one encourage a love of learning and being open to learning and how can one avoid triggering children to close off. Here’s an image of my youngest when she was just five painting in my previous studio. She’s was very engaged in the process and painted some 6 paintings with gusto that session. Ah the openness and creativity of little ones.
Oh and by the way if I haven’t already got to you, my very first solo art exhibition opens next week. It’s a little of the outcome of opening my mind and giving colour a go. Do come along … http://www.nicmasonartist.com/news.html
It’s week 9 of my 3 month intensive residency in my studio and my first solo show is looming. I’d love you to come to the opening. It’s on at 2pm Saturday 19 March at Cowra Regional Art Gallery. http://www.nicmasonartist.com/gallery.html . The list of works for the catalogue is in. But wait, a moment of anxiety. Will I be done in time? Am I ready for this show to go out into the world? Have I given it my all, done my best work? Does the work have value and does it make a contribution? Will anyone come. Will I be able to feed my babies and pay for the vet bills? It seems Nim thought the bin was way better than my art this week. With the delicacy of ever so tastey foil, she got her insides all blocked up. Luckily she is back from the vets and is on the mend. Back onto my art, I have been thinking about how I got to this point in the journey. There have been many helpers and pushers and teachers and influences and walkers with me along the way. Too many to list in one go, but right now I just want to say thanks to those painting and drawing TAFE teachers that I was fortunate enough to be in their company. Thanks to Dalia Moran who in my very first painting class introduced us all to the work of Margaret Woodward http://www.wagnerartgallery.com.au/artists.php?id=25. My whole being was present, intrigued – completely won over and I just wanted to learn. To Yaeli O’hana, https://au.linkedin.com/in/yaeli-ohana-1a76066 your lessons were gold. Composition, mark making, stepping back from your work, being critical, how to show your work, it was all there. To Catherine O’Donnell, http://www.catherineodonnell.com.au/news/ you set a fine example and you gave me such encouragement at the time and since, which I cannot thank you enough. To Cameron Ferguson http://gladesvilleartschool.com.au/?page_id=153 who started me with oil paints, loved your demo - ‘don’t worry’ just get stuck in, this really was a big moment on my path. To Paddy Robinson http://www.finglinna.com/ who gave me such big confidence. To Ruth Stone http://www.hillendart.com.au/ruthstone who directed me to direct my own work, to build up with my drawing, to lose and find focus, to push parts back and bring marks forward. It was a light bulb moment for me. To Bec Wilson http://rebeccawilsonart.com/ who opened my eyes to mixing it up on those still life sessions, using different brush strokes to pull you into a work and to search for balance and also to just do your very best. And then to watch your rich journey with Kate Kelly – thank you. Then there is Kiata Mason. She wasn’t one of my TAFE teachers, but she is a TAFE teacher, she is my cousin and she is a tremendously talented artist and beautiful person. She’s been on a life long journey with making art and she is currently doing her Masters at the National Art School. Congratulations on all your work and how awesome to feel the buzz at being a finalist with a special mention in the 2016 Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing https://www.plc.nsw.edu.au/microsites/adelaide-perry-gallery/adelaide-perry-prize-for-drawing/the-2016-perry-prize-/the-2016-perry-prize. She really has, opened my eyes, challenged me and given so much support. And lastly, thanks to Cath Barcan, http://www.cathbarcan.com/index.html Head Teacher at Nepean Arts and Design Centre http://nadc.wsi.tafensw.edu.au/, who set up a part time option which without, I doubt I would have been able to start at TAFE. This along with the old structure that was TAFE (before the major restructure) that enabled me to access a centre in proximity to where I lived and affordably leap in. I do feel some sense of loss for us all, for what was.
From then to now, there has been a focus. I have not ventured too far from the figure in the landscape and the portrait. Here is an image of my first oil painting (one of two works) that was shown in the Blackheath Art Prize in 2011. It won second prize and sold. Thanks too to whoever bought it, without you too, it would be a different story.